Jonathon Ross, Kirsty Wark, the NME, the French, Charlotte Corday and many others have all, at one time or another, been taken in by the artistic pretensions of Pete Doherty. I liked The Libertines and their vignettes of London life; I bought a couple of Babyshambles CDs thinking there would be a return to form and even wasted money on a Pete Doherty solo CD. But “Enough; no more: /’Tis not so sweet now as it was before.”
The facts have to be faced. His pudgy face, with a voice that sounds as though it has been caught in a trap but hasn’t the energy to bite off its own leg, and fingers that have difficulty locating a G chord on the guitar without sliding helplessly away to find a syringe, point towards animal rather than human life. Just as slugs have a capacity to smell food from a distance so does Doherty, only in his case it’s his latest fix he sniffs out. For a while Highbury Magistrates Court was Doherty’s second home and the way he fooled magistrates into his determination to beat his drug habit was only eclipsed by how he fooled broadcasters when interview after interview elicited sympathy for Doherty’s brave battle against addiction. Inevitably, following this Coriolanus-like, public proffering of wounds, he would be allowed to play one of his opuses which would have audiences genuinely pitying him for being willing to display such a lack of any talent whatsoever except that of self-promotion.
It seems Doherty is self deluded enough to believe he is a 21st century Renaissance man – poet, songwriter, musician, actor, artist. Artistically, Doherty has become a bankrupt force. If you read his Books of Albion, you discover he has never moved beyond sixth form poetry. Gigs are sporadic and even if you have paid for tickets, there is never any guarantee Doherty will make an appearance. He is prepared to prostitute his art and insult his audience for the sole purpose of making money to buy drugs. There have been many artists who have been addicts but those who have been true to art have put the art first without pissing all over their audience – William Burroughs being a prime example. Doherty’s blood spattered paintings are a joke even to the art world with one expert declaring : “It’s not got any artistic merit. He’s using his blood to make them interesting, but when you look at them they’re what any four-year-old can do.” His acting abilities in the film ‘Confession of a Child of the Century’ have at their kindest been described as “catastrophic” and “calamitous”.
Yet it’s not the artistic damage that Doherty has committed that has led him to be here; its the very real damage he does to other people. Carl Barat clearly has an ambivalent relationship with him and wasn’t best pleased when Doherty burgled his flat and stole a guitar and laptop. He has frequently been prosecuted for driving under the influence and has left at least one pedestrian in a serious condition after a hit and run. And then of course there are the deaths. It probably didn’t help Amy Winehouse that Doherty was an intimate friend. The heiress Rachel Whitehead was another who fell under Doherty’s toxic spell: he was arrested following her death for supplying her with the drugs that killed her. Mark Blanco’s death is symptomatic of Doherty’s inhumanity. Here is a man who, as a direct result of an argument with Doherty, either fell or was pushed from a first floor balcony. CCTV footage shows Doherty leaving the building as soon as possible, looking at the body and casually stepping over it before making his escape. He later partied into the night, trashing a hotel room and ruining someone’s wedding reception.
He is a man who cares for no-one but himself, has built a career out of adopting the foibles of other artists whilst displaying none of the talent, and has been responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the deaths of others. It’s just a shame he didn’t make the ultimate artistic statement and video himself against a full size blank canvas with a gun in his mouth so we could all witness the moment of impact and the resulting, beautiful, blood spattered, artistic masterpiece. The white of the brains might spoil the effect but I’m not sure how much of that would be in evidence. The corpulent, slug like body could then lay and rot and putrefy, a fitting artistic statement for what this man has achieved.